Twin issues for Cornish Pirates as Falcons fly down for Mennaye battle
Injuries and unavailability have predictably forced the Cornish Pirates into several team changes ahead of Sunday's clash with Newcastle Falcons at the Mennaye Field in the RFU Championship (3pm), writes Dick Straughan.
Prop Ben Prescott has travelled to Scotland for the imminent birth of his twins while wing Matt Evans has been ruled out following a heavy collision at Bristol a week ago with left him briefly unconscious.
His absence means a re-shuffle in the backs with Wes Davies shrugging off a knee injury and taking over from Evans on the left wing. Kieran Hallett drops back to cover the full back position with Aaron Penberthy coming in for his first start of the season at fly-half.
Tom Kessell retains the scrum-half jersey and Junior Fatialofa has recovered from a knock and wears 12.
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Up front Ryan Storer and fit-again Alan Paver get the nod in the front row along with Rob Elloway and David Lyons starts at lock with Darren Barry dropping to the bench.
With flanker Kyle Marriott injured Chris Morgan makes his first start since May and Phil Burgess skippers the side.
On the bench there are places for recent signing from Redruth Peter Joyce and current Reds wing and former Pirate Lewis Vinnecombe who has joined the Penzance club on a one match loan.
Ally Hogg captains Newcastle Falcons as the north easterners aim to make it four wins in a row. Hogg skippers the side in the absence of Will Welch who suffered concussion in last week's bonus point triumph over Doncaster Knights.
Falcons' boss Dean Richards has made four changes for the journey south with Alex Crockett and Joel Hodgson getting the nod in the backline.
Crockett replaces James Fitzpatrick at the heart of the Falcons backline while Hodgson is handed the No.10 jersey.
Rob Vickers starts at hooker and Taiasina Tu'ifua returns to openside flanker after two weeks on the sideline.
"We are expecting a very difficult test down there at the Pirates and you just have to look at the quality of rugby that they play," said Richards, who has made the perfect start to life on Tyneside with 15 points out of 15.
"Cornish Pirates play a very expansive game and have scored a lot of tries this year, and they are probably the most consistent in terms of their style of performance.
"They are a very good side and I said the other night on television that I think it is a very difficult place to go even for any Premiership side and I don't think that many would come back with a win," added Richards.
Despite suffering a 29-17 defeat at Bristol last weekend, the Penzance outfit will be a tough proposition at the Mennaye Field according to Richards.
Richards said: "We are looking to win and we are certainly going down there for the win – more than anything I want to come away with a 'w' and providing we get that I will be happy."
Cornish Pirates: Hallett, Bedford, Riley, Fatialofa, Davies, Penberthy, Kessell; Storer, Elloway, Paver, Lyons, Johnson, Morgan, Burgess (capt), B.Maidment. Replacements – Andrew, Semmens, Joyce, Barry, Cattle, Cheesman, Vinnecombe.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Jimmy Gopperth, 14 Luke Fielden, 13 Alex Crockett, 12 Tane Tu'ipulotu, 11 Tom Catterick, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Rory Lawson, 1 Jonny Golding, 2 Rob Vickers, 3 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 4 Scott MacLeod, 5 James Hudson, 6 Ally Hogg (c), 7 Taiasina Tu'ifua, 8 Richard Mayhew.
Replacements: 16 Matt Thompson, 17 James Hall, 18 Carlo del Fava, 19 Mark Wilson, 20 Jordi Pasqualin, 21 Jamie Helleur, 22 Alex Tait.
Referee: Greg MacDonald (RFU).